For a pre-Christmas lunch with friends, we decided that instead of turkey, we’d plump for Turtle, that is “Turtle Bay”:http://www.turtlebay.co.uk/, a chain of 19 lively Caribbean restaurants, a few minutes walk from our house in a recently developed area of Walthamstow. The restaurant has a rustic decoration with lots of corrugated iron, wood, concrete and Jamaican posters which give it a real Caribbean feel. The main restaurant is on the ground floor although there is also seating on the first floor during busy periods and lots of seating on the pavement during summer.
Since my last “review”:http://www.silvertraveladvisor.com/review/restaurant/148692-review-turtle-bay, when the restaurant had just opened, it has gone from strength to strength and remains busy.
We were therefore somewhat surprised how quiet it was on a December Friday at 1.30pm. Bearing this is mind, we were unfortunately guided to a table adjacent to one containing two small, squawking children. We discreetly asked for another table.
Having got us settled, our waiter introduced himself as Tomas. We decided to start with a cocktail (two for one at £6.95 until 7pm). We all plumped for a Jamaican Mule (a long drink of ginger beer and spiced rum) which was so refreshing we opted for a second round instead of wine.
A Beach Food Platter (spicy jerk chicken wings, pepper roti, sweet corn fritters, garlic and herb flatbread) allowed us to sample a selection of their starters and at £12.95 was ideal (although we couldn’t resist adding a portion of cheesy jerk fries). The pepper roti was deliciously spicy.
Although the “menu”:http://www.turtlebay.co.uk/food-drink/ has sections for lighter lunches and early suppers (all at £6.95) we wanted something a little more substantial than a wrap, bun or flat bread or salad (£8.50).
Three of the group opted for either Mo’Bay chicken or lamb from the Jerk Pit BBQ section on the menu – prices ranged from 9.95 to £15.50 depending on the meat. The huge chunks of lamb were said to be succulent and the chicken in a creamy jerk sauce was swiftly polished off. These dishes were served with coleslaw and a choice of sweet potato mash, sweet potato fries or the traditional rice and peas.
I chose from the section headed One Pots – said to ‘be richly and slowly simmered in a uniquely Caribbean way’. My chicken curry was divine and like all dishes in this section, was served in a white old-fashioned enamel deep casserole dish (the sort with a blue rim). I couldn’t finish all the rice and peas but the sauce was superb and the chicken very tender.
All the dishes are well spiced, rather than hot but each table contained three bottles of sauce of varying degrees of heat for those who like things on the spicy side. If you want something traditionally Caribbean, goat is available both as a curry and burger.
Instead of a puddings we hit the rum and each chose a different measure. Despite the Wray being 65% proof, all were priced at £3.95 and ranged in colour from clear to a very dark brown. We took on board Tomas’s advice not to have them with ice and passed them round communion style.
Tomas was an excellent waiter, in that he was attentive but not in your face which allowed us to chat uninterrupted. He also kept glasses topped up with tap water.
Turtle Bay has recently suffered from negative publicity (along with other chains) in that they require staff to pay them back 3% of table sales at the end of each shift. In Walthamstow this campaign has been supported by our MP, Stella Creasy, who has joined protests outside the restaurant. Hopefully this will not deter people from visiting what is a great lively venue with excellent food.